Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Consent of the Governed

The Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…” Abraham Lincoln concluded that that in the Declaration, Jefferson introduced “an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times …” and that “The [Constitution] was made, not to conceal, or destroy the [Declaration of Independence]; but to adorn and preserve it. The [Constitution] was made for the [Declaration] -- not the [opposite]." The Founding Fathers acknowledged that the dual purpose of the Constitution was to establish a national government of separate and limited powers. The Founders were not only in accord with the principle that the sovereign power of self-government resides in the people, but that, as stated in the Declaration of Independence, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Their convictions taught them that every man was “endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights,” the foremost being liberty. These principles of inherent or divine rights are known as “natural law,” or “natural rights.” John Jay, author of several of the Federalist Papers, and the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, stated: “Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of Government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights, in order to vest it with requisite powers.” Thus, any power asserted by the federal government which is not delegated (expressly or clearly implied) to it by the People is either non-existent or usurped. This constitutes the difference between liberty and tyranny.

By: J. David Gowdy